Who is recognised as the "poet's poet" among Elizabethan literary artists.

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Edmund Spenser had the reputation of being the "poet's poet" during his lifetime and later, and a monument raised in his honor calls him "the Prince of Poets in his Time". This reputation continued for three centuries well through the time of Romantic poets such as Wordsworth, Coleridge and, later, Keats and Shelley.

Spenser's place as the "poet's poet" (which means that even poet's--the most critical of all poetry readers--admired him and held him up as a model to emulate) is documented in critical commentaries written in his lifetime and for three hundred years after and by the account of Spenser's funeral as recorded by William Camden, who writes that other great poet's attended Spenser's funeral and threw poetic elegiac tributes into his tomb along with the pens with which the elegies were written, thus immortalizing the poet and the very instruments with which he was immortalized.

Some of the reasons Spenser was--and is--so highly valued as an English poet are that he restored the native language of England by writing poetry, beginning with The Shepherd's Calendar, without borrowed loan words from French. Later, in The Faerie Queene, Spenser continued the same tradition and used archaic English language (i.e., middle English vocabulary such as Chaucer would have used) instead of the then current English expanded through foreign words, phrases and idioms.

In addition, he was recognized as and gained renown as a love poet, first through Amoretti and then through his wedding celebration poem, the inimitable Epithalamion. This wedding poem is a masterpiece that no one has been able to surpass because it combines astronomical and calendrical significance with a progressing chronicle of his wedding day and majestic language and unsurpassed imagery.